I am a strong woman with chronic pain

A sketch of a woman flexing her biceps.

Just because I can do it, does not mean I should not. Just because I can do it, does not mean it does not hurt. Just because I can do it, does not mean I will not pay it later.

I am a strong woman. I am a strong woman with  chronic pain . I did ballet for 16 years until four knee surgeries left me on the sidelines. I developed muscles that do not even exist in the bodies of most people. I have not danced for years, but those muscles are still there. I do not exercise and, in fact, I am overweight and I am not in shape. It was already like that when I was diagnosed with  psoriatic arthritis  and fibromyalgia .

Sometimes I have to walk with a cane. Many times I can not lift things, or I know it will hurt if I do, so I choose not to do it. But I’m still strong, and sometimes I feel like flexing those muscles.

Today my husband and I were cleaning the house. It has messed up a lot, but on this holiday weekend, we are taking the opportunity to reorganize and fix ourselves. I have worked very hard and I have a lot of pain. I have sat with two heating pads that extend along my spine, through my shoulders and neck.

I am still participating in the task by making suggestions and doing little things here and there. My husband moved a dresser across the room, and I watched him move in place leaving the carpet sticking out. While I was busy with the next task, I knew that the carpet was going to bother me. Instead of bothering my husband, I wanted to stretch my proverbial legs. I walked around the room, lifted the heavy chest of drawers and fixed the carpet underneath.

My husband laughed and commented (in a good mood): “Maybe you do not need those heat packs!”

Repentance invades me as I shake my head and return to my chair.

“Trust me, I do it.”

Even the man who sees my strengths and weaknesses, often more clearly than me, does not always understand the nature of chronic pain.

I’m strong. Most of the time I can no longer use that strength and, if I do, I pay the consequences. But when I do it, just because I do it, it does not mean I should not do it. It does not mean that it does not hurt. It does not mean that I will not pay it later. That is the nature of chronic pain. It will always be there, even when it seems that it is not.


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